It seems like lately I've been hearing from women all over that they feel not good enough. We, as ladies, are SO hard on ourselves, and we are constantly worried we are hurting someone's feelings, or anxious we've said the wrong thing. Women are compassionate creatures, we are nurturing and loving, and because of it we are taken advantage of OFTEN.
Yes, I know there are ladies who don't feel the need to people please, and to you I say, "Congratulations! That's awesome! I am aspiring to be more like you." But for the rest of us, I want to address a deep need we all have... to be enough.
But what does it mean to be "enough?"
What does that even mean? It's actually easier to relate to the feeling of being "not enough" than to being "enough."
Enough means not having to apologize all the time whenever someone feels sad, or something goes wrong. Enough means not taking responsibility for another's feelings, actions or expressions. It means standing up for yourself when another human being is emotionally vomiting all over you, or gaslighting you (telling you that you are wrong about your own thoughts, feelings or emotions) or making you feel wrong for your opinions, beliefs or needs.
Enough is about knowing that YOU ARE JUST FINE THE WAY YOU ARE RIGHT NOW.
I feel as if I can speak to this very clearly and from the heart because of my own history with feeling "not enough." Even on my best days there are times that I find myself accommodating a friend, colleague or client when I've swore I wouldn't violate that boundary anymore. And then I do it again.
Like when someone asks you to bend in a way you know makes you feel uncomfortable. Such as someone asking to be picked up from the Airport when you know there's a perfectly good bus, train, or hey, have they heard of Lyft? Uber? C'mon now...
Or when your boss asks you to stay late, or to take over another person's duties, or when you partner tells you they are "too tired" to run that errand, do that chore, complete the task they promised to do.
What happens when your boundaries are challenged. Do you bend? Do you break? Do you just silently pick up the slack and act like nothing has happened (or even worse, do you "save the day" with a smile on your face, while silently cursing the added stress?)
There is a reason we are suffering in such large numbers of stress and anxiety-related diseases. How many women do you know with Depression? General Anxiety Disorder? It's all too common. Sometimes it just manifests as stomach issues, food allergies, worry... it has many names, and all too often it's root lies in "bending" to another's will or whim. But it doesn't have to be this way!
Enough means setting boundaries
Ahh, boundaries. That subtle demon that women the world over are taught don't apply to us. We are told the suffrage movement was for "our rights" and in many ways we've gained some... women can be doctors, lawyers, internists, therapists, flight attendants, even supreme court judges. The world is changing in many ways. We can vote. We can marry other women. In most places in the US we can safely get abortions (yes, another topic). But in some ways we are treated exactly the same.
Recently I had a client in my office who was a new mother by a few weeks. It was the birth of her second child, and her Mother-in-Law was visiting to see the new baby. She was super anxious about the visit (as so many of us are) and commented about the way her MIL was treating her. For her new maternity gift my client was "re-gifted" old placemats with dried, crusty food all over them. To make it worse the MIL handed the "gift" to my client's daughter and had her carry them to her Mother.
Naturally my client acted happy about this "gift" but inside she was heartbroken. "Is this really what she thinks of me? I'm worth food-stained placemats?" my client commented, her eyes tearing up. "Of course not" I said. "You are worth so much more than that."
But naturally this isn't about placemats at all. Aside from the fact that this gift was gross, weird, and super disrespectful, the fact that my client had to act like it was okay is the problem. WHY in our current society, do we feel it is acceptable to belittle, push and judge others, especially women?
Enough means saying "no" and having it be okay
In the case of my client, why couldn't she just refuse the gift? Why can't we tell that friend we can't take them to the airport, can't loan them money, won't do the dishes for the 100th time when our partner doesn't feel like it anymore? Because of the fear that others will judge us. Or maybe we deserve to be treated this way. Or because it's the "right thing to do."
Boundaries and saying no are the cornerstone of taking back our power, taking back our "enoughness." Deciding that my needs are just as important as someone else's and realizing that I. Can. Say. No.
Boundaries are about setting rules for how we want others to treat us, and then STICKING TO THEM LIKE GLUE. It's easy to complain and say, "I wish they didn't treat me this way" but it's another thing altogether to call them on their shit and say, "No, I won't do that anymore, I'm not tolerating this treatment and I won't stand for it."
You deserve to be comfortable in your space. You deserve to make noise, to be loud, to be human, to be woman. You deserve to spread out, to take up space. You deserve to ask others for help and to be okay receiving it. BE the person asking for a favor, and don't accept when others make decisions for you, especially when it's against what you really want or believe in.
Enough is about self-care, and putting your needs first
You are important. Your NEEDS are important. You deserve to be valued, and the first step in being enough is to value your own process. Take a break from that big project. Put down the laundry basket and read a book for a few minutes. Breathe. Go to that yoga class you've been eyeing, but didn't think you had time for. Book a massage, or a session with your Chiropractor. Meet a friend for coffee. Watch Netflix for a little bit. Take an Epsom salt bath.
Just hit pause for a bit.
Too often we put the needs of others before our own, and although it feels like a *tiny* concession in the moment, over time those little bends and exceptions add up. And what they create is a feeling of overwhelm and subtle unworthiness. A feeling of being "not enough."
So start small. The next time someone asks you for a small favor, say "No." Start with a friend or family member and build up to the scarier people. Support yourself FIRST and spend more time with those who value you without asking for anything. If you don't have anyone like that, at least start to journal. It pays to start small. You didn't get into this place of feeling not enough in one moment, and it will take a while to get back out.
But it is possible.
And the scariest thing about all of this, the part we don't want to face...
Is that we are already enough.
YOU are already enough.
With time and practice you can show everyone else how wonderful, beautiful and amazing you are. It's time to start looking out for you and standing up for yourself.
Because. You. Are. Worth. It.
Dr. Amanda loves empowering women to reach the life they crave through daily habits, hacks and ideas. She continues to practice in Boulder, CO as a holistic chiropractor and health mentor to ladies of all ages.